Bath once again proved their ability to play good rugby in poor weather conditions, running in five tries to ensure themselves a winning bonus point and a home quarter-final in the European Challenge Cup by beating F.C. Auch Gers 31 points to 13.
From the start Bath Rugby showed their intent and in the fifth minute those efforts were rewarded. Danny Grewcock broke the Auch defense down and after going to ground Butch James received the ball and offloaded a pass to Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu who came in at an angle to score. James missed the conversion with the wind sweeping the ball away from the uprights.
Auch closed the gap two minutes later with fly-half Couzier hitting a penalty from forty meters out. After testing kicks from Bath putting the Auch backs under immense pressure (nearly resulting in a try on two separate occasions after handling errors from Auch), a collapsed scrum gave Auch a chance to further reduce the deficit - but a poor kick saw Couzier's effort fall well short of the posts.
Bath's second try came in the 21st minute. After a quick break down the wing, Michael Stephenson was eventually brought down but not before he was able to offload to Zak Feaunati who scored the first of his two tries. James came closer to a successful conversion this time only for the left upright to prevent him from scoring.
The home side's final try before half-time came via full-back Joe Maddock. Rob Hawkins nearly scored the try himself after darting down the centre of the pitch but he was tackled 10 meters or so from the try line. However quick recycled ball went through the backs and culminated in Maddock scoring in the corner. James converted.
Auch got themselves back into the game just before the break through an Edmond-Samuel try and a Couzier conversion. Bath went into half-time 17-10 up.
The second-half opened with both sides running the ball but it was not until the 55th minute that more points were scored. With Yoann Marty yellow carded for being offside and interrupting Bath ball, Bath were awarded a scrum close to the Auch try line. Bath took advantage of the extra man to over power the opposition forwards and let Zak Feaunati in to score and claim the bonus point. James converted.
Auch's only points in the second half came from a Couzier penalty in the 65th minute.
Danny Grewcock so nearly made it five tries when the ball broke loose. It was only a last minute football style defensive kick from the Auch fullback that saw the ball cleared before Grewcock could pounce
A fifth try did come for Bath minutes later though. James - so often at the heart of this Bath performance - popped a pass to Shaun Berne running in on an angle and Australian out paced the defense to score. James hit his third conversion of the afternoon.
Bath Rugby have now qualified for a home quarter-final on the weekend of the 4th/ 5th/ 6th April. We won't know our opposition until the completion of the round six pool games on Sunday.
15 Maddock, 14 Stephenson (Abendanon 64), 13 Fuimaono-Sapolu (Barkley 70), 12 Berne ©, 11 Higgins, 10 James, 9 Baxter; 1 Barnes (Stevens 56), 2 Hawkins (Mears 64), 3 Ion (Barnes 70), 4 Borthwick, 5 Grewcock (Purdy 77), 6 Faamatuainu, 7 Scaysbrook, 8 Feaunati (Browne 70)